Sky lantern and balloon releases could soon be banned from all Glasgow City Council premises in a bid to protect wildlife.
The move comes a month after the council pledged to end the use of plastic straws in support of Sunnyside Primary School’s successful #NaeStrawAtAw campaign.
The Craigend primary is a School of Conservation with pupils learning about, and campaigning on, a range of environmental issues.
The school’s Ocean Defenders group recently made national news when #NaeStrawAtAw convinced the council to stop using plastic straws in all its restaurants and cafes as well as helping pupils in Ullapool to inspire the entire village to go plastic straw free.
#NaeStrawAtAw has also gained support from Best Bar None Glasgow, the SSE Hydro and restaurants and businesses at Glasgow Fort including Nandos, Harvester, Pret A Manger and Marks & Spencer. The Ocean Defenders also travelled to Arran to encourage primary pupils to lobby island businesses to end the use of plastic straws.
Now Sunnyside’s #PrettyDeadly campaign is prompting action on another form of pollution. It highlights the environmental threat from decorative balloons and lanterns which are often released at celebrations and launch events. Birds and other wildlife can die after becoming entangled in the wire frames of lanterns when they land in woods, fields and rivers and the candles inside also pose a fire risk.
Wild animals and livestock can also choke to death on balloons when they fall to earth – often miles from the release site. Even items claiming to be biodegradable can take many months to finally break down.
Councillor Anna Richardson, City Convenor for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, said: “I’ve been so impressed by Sunnyside Primary School’s environmental campaigns. The pupils are so knowledgeable and passionate about protecting the planet. Their #NaestrawAtAw campaign was discussed at the Scottish Parliament and made national headlines, but more importantly, it convinced businesses to stop using plastic straws, preventing hundreds of thousands going to landfill or ending up in our rivers, streams and oceans.
“Now the pupils are highlighting the dangers posed by sky lanterns and balloon releases. Their arguments are so convincing that I’m proposing a ban on releases from all council-owned premises and land – including the city’s parks. Hopefully this draft policy will help put an end to environmental litter and the needless suffering of animals.”
Lisa Perrie, Sunnyside Primary School teacher, welcomed the proposed change in policy.
She said: “The pupils are delighted that the council is proposing to ban sky lanterns and balloon releases from all its premises. Although these items seem like pretty, fun and harmless entertainment, they can have a terrible impact on our wildlife and farm animals.
“Everyone at the school is very proud of all the hard work the pupils put into their environmental studies and the support they have attracted is proof that everyone can do something significant to reduce pollution and help the planet.”
The proposed ban on balloon releases and sky lanterns would apply to all council-owned land and premises. It would also be a condition of council building lets and event licensing. Environmentally-friendly celebrations such as flying kites, planting trees or scattering wildflower seeds will be encouraged instead.
The draft policy will be discussed at the Environment, Sustainability & Carbon Reduction City Committee on March 20th with the recommendation that it is referred to the City Administration Committee for approval.
CAPTION:- A campaign by Sunnyside Primary School’s Ocean Defenders prompted the council’s proposed ban on sky lantern and balloon releases. (link to photo at very bottom of release)